A LEO’s View Of l’affaire Gates

Posted on behalf of a LEO who chooses to remain anonymous…

From Wikipedia:

“Discrimination toward or against a person of a certain group is the treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit. Discrimination is always a behavior that promotes a certain group at the expense of another”

Change is hard. It’s as hard to accept as it is to achieve. Well folks, times have changed and it is time to embrace it and move forward.

The incident in Cambridge involving Professor Gates is a perfect example of a man’s cultural heritage ruling his response to what should have been a harmless incident that began with nothing but the best of intentions. It’s a shame that adversarial racial politics are still sexier than common sense and reality. It’s even sadder that discrimination is considered reasonable, but only if it comes from a historically oppressed source.

The stereotype of a predominately white police force made up of blue collar, barely educated war veterans from the Viet Nam era is a thing of the past. For one thing, those guys are all old and retired (no offense to old retired cops here, of course.) The most senior sergeant at my police department was hired almost 20 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The average officer on the street was hired over 30 years after that historic moment.

I work for a state police department that patrols a major university and the surrounding city streets. It’s a unique environment and we are well trained to deal with it. Far from an occupying army, we are members of the community we serve.

Our officers are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Philipino, gay, Jewish, you name it he or she is our brother or sister in crime fighting. Most of our officers are college graduates, some with post-graduate degrees, many are alumni. Only one of every one hundred applicants makes it all the way through the screening and training process to become a full fledged police office working the streets.

We are governed by a state standard that includes ongoing training in avoiding historically common forms of bias in the way we perform our job within our human limitations, for we are of course human, just like you. We are required by both law and policy to be fair and reasonable in our approach to the situations we encounter. We are expected to have a thicker skin than most and turn the other cheek to those who are abusive to us, within reason and until we feel physically threatened. We are still human. Just like you. Words can still hurt, but we are trained to control our reactions.

In Cambridge, Professor Gates seems to have assumed that Sergeant Crowley had an agenda. He was right. Sergeant Crowley was planning to catch a burglar breaking into a house. That was his agenda. And upon his arrival he encountered a man fitting the suspect description, who yelled at him and refused to cooperate with his requests for identification. Instead, the professor started hurling insults. Racist insults. You see the professor’s insults were based on his perception of Sergeant Crowley. A perception that was based on Sergeant Crowley’s profession and his skin color.

The politically correct will say that isn’t fair. They will say that Professor Gates reaction was a result of historical oppression and discrimination. His behavior will be excused because of his race and history. Even by the President of the United States. Forget that he is a highly regarded and honored scholar with the benefit of the best education available in this country. Forget that a man of his stature should be expected to behave like a mature adult who shows the patience and respect towards others that he clearly expects from others. Forget that an educated man and renowned teacher and author should be able to grasp that police officers responding to a burglary in progress are going to look for the suspect as described by the caller and for their own safety, will be reasonably suspicious of the person they encounter who fits that description. The situation will escalate if that person seems highly reactive and volatile upon contact.

Sergeant Crowley on the other hand will be held by many to a super human standard. Forget that he was called to the residence by a witness. Forget that he encountered the actual person described in the call. Forget that the person refused to cooperate and instead shouted at him and began hurling those racially based insults. Forget that Sergeant Crowley team teaches a class for recruits on how to avoid racial profiling, along with an African American colleague. Or that he was hand picked for that role by Cambridge’s black Police Commissioner. Or that he volunteers as a youth coach and is a decorated officer. Forget that many officers would have proned him out at gunpoint before asking for identification. He will be vilified in many forums as a racist. Sergeant Crowley will be treated as a lower class citizen that is assumed to have erred due to his skin color and profession.

Is it just me or is the irony getting kind of thick in here?

8 thoughts on “A LEO’s View Of l’affaire Gates”

  1. Not long ago a Knight-Ridder reporter became the most reviled person on the internet after he bragged about how he tried to intimidate a soldier who stopped his vehicle in Iraq. This is pretty much what Gates tried to do, but since he is black and a professor of permanent victimhood he may not be reviled.

    In fact, we owe Prof. Gates a profound debt. He may have literally hulled the Battleship Obama below the waterline. If Gates had driven a tractor trailer through the president’s press conference he could hardly have done more damage.

    We might be saved from socialized medicine because a Harvard professor couldn’t get the door to his own damn house open.

  2. When Obama said that, I had the same thought. Not only was it silly to take sides against a cop, Obama himself said he didn’t know all the facts. Why not the standard “no comment at this time” that every political executive learns when they are 8th grade class president?

    And by doing this on a Thursday, he guaranteed that the weekend political chat shows will be spent analyzing Gates vs The Cop, and how our supposedly brilliant president Stupidly stuck himself into it.

    It doesn’t help that Gates is coming off like a complete grade-A asshole from the Al Sharpton school of racial grievance-mongering, while the cop is the Mother Teresa of non-racist white cops (he even teaches classes in avoiding racial profiling!).

    An aside, my own thought is if there was a “contempt of cop” trigger, it was because this cop had deep pride on NOT being a racist and fighting against it in his dept, and Gates’ “getting racial” in the first sentence or two of their interaction launched things downward.

  3. Ha! What a tempest in a teapot. I think one can safely assume that both Gates and Crowley acted “stupidly.” Gates for being abusive to one of Cambridge’s finest who, after all, was there to protect his residence; and Crowely for arresting someone for being upset after being erroneously suspected–and I assume initially treated as–a burglar. As they say it takes two to tango.

    As for Obama. What a breath of fresh air. Here’s someone willing to engage and speak his mind when asked a question. What could one possibly disagree with in what he said. . . other than he should not have spoken at all because it’s safer to say nothing?

    Socialized medicine?? Huh?

  4. I can’t see how the President bashing a cop in favor of his buddy is “fresh air”, especially when he admits to not knowing the facts on the ground.

    Malodorous is a word that comes to mind. As well as Stupid.

  5. Good morning Foobarista:

    As opposed to the details of the Crowley/Gates spat, where everyone is speculating, Obama’s answer is on You Tube. So which words, exactly, did you perceive as “malodorous”, “stupid”, or “cop-bashing?” . . . and why? We’re looking for quality thinking here.

  6. Obama’s statement was obviously carefully put together, but Presidents aren’t judged on how cleanly their sentences parse. They’re judged on the impressions left by their overall statements.

    Sure, you could argue that he didn’t directly bash the particular cop, or even state that the particular incident had anything to do with racial matters. But by choosing to stress racial questions relating to the police immediately after discussing how “stupidly” the police acted, he rhetorically painted the police involved with the racial brush. And he’s smart enough that he knew exactly what he was doing.

    If this incident wasn’t racial, how could Obama argue that there was anything resembling a “teaching moment” here? What is he teaching about?

  7. Ahh the good life in Post-Racial America! Where, with the flip of a switch, 400 years of systemic and institutionalized racism turned on a dime 180 degrees with the election Super Jesus Black Reagan (SJBR).

    _”If this incident wasn’t racial, how could Obama argue that there was anything resembling a “teaching moment” here? What is he teaching about?”_

    Who says the incident wasn’t racial? You? Yes, passionate declarations of a new post-racial America have been made all around but do mere assertions create facts?

    SJBR made the banal observation that arresting an understandably irate citizen who has committed no crime at his own residence on a manufactured charge of disorderly conduct (promptly dropped) was “stupid” and the sky falls.

    I’m a 19 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department and *I*
    thought the arrest was stupid the first instant I heard the details. After reading a copy of the actual police report this impression was confirmed.

    Please don’t get the impression that I’m a defender of per se of Gates whom I’ve come to loath after being introduced to some of his “work”, but this case is fairly clear-cut: the man got jobbed and his color didn’t help. While I strive for a truly post-racial America I’m honest enough and certainly observant enough [being black how could I miss it?] that we’re nowhere near there yet.

    As for Gates, please enjoy the following as Ishmael Reed opens a timely can of “whip-ass”: http://www.counterpunch.org/reed07272009.html on ol’ “post-racial” Skip.

  8. We were talking about Obama, not our “own takes”. Obama can’t claim the incident wasn’t “racial” and then declare it the topic of a “teaching moment”.

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